Fourteen days to Valentine is the best time to walk away. I know this, trust me. I’ve done it a few times. And the best time to pick up another? Seven days after February 14.
The two sat chatting.
“So why fourteen days to Val?”
“For a fact, I love even numbers. But here, fourteen days to Val is January 31st; when the history of our time together is told, it wouldn’t be in the record that…”
“When the history is told to who? Or by who? A mag? You’re no celeb…”
“When the story is told to friends… or peddled by friends. Then, it won’t be in the record that we broke up in February, it won’t be said that I opted out ’cause of the Valentine heat.”
“More like Valentine demand, no?”
“But it’s the very reason why you’re opting out.”
“Who needs to know? There’s another reason though.”
“You never complete a cycle with anyone!”
“Cycle? You mean like menstrual cy…?”
“Damn! What are you? Dull?”
“What do you mean then? Easy with the name-calling, BTW.”
“See, you never complete a year with anyone in a relationship. You pick ’em in late February, leave ’em before another February. That is what I call smarts! You never complete the cycle!”
“How is that smart? I mean, what’s so tight about that?”
“What’s not tight about that? Huh? You gonna stick around for God-knows-how-long for what? That’s what married folks do? And trust me, they don’t gloat about that, even by the slightest of pretense. Why am I even trying to make you understand?”
Exhales. “So you break up before the cycle completes and find another, huh? What if you fall in love?”
“Fall in love? That’s no problem. I can choose to love and un-love at will. The prob is; what if the fellow loves me?”
“Ok, what if the fellow loves you?”
Sniggers. “That’s when the heartbreak story is told.” Picks up bag to start walking away. “What? Why you staring at me like that? Heartbreak sometimes is good. They make good use of it. The ones who write paint nice poetry. Others with cool voices sing about it. Others just man-up.”
“It’s really un-cool, you know.”
“Nothing’s ever cool with you…”
Rolls eyes. “It’s not like I’m the only one who commits this crime. How about those I pick up seven days after Val? They are not the ones left by others? The ones whose hearts are shattered, waiting for me to gleefully walk in with a glue? Abeg jor! Come make we comot here!”
This conversation was between Tina and Bukky at one of the parks in Unilag, January 31st, 2012.
How did I become privy to this, a skeptic would want to ask. Well, I’m Tina’s current boyfriend—the one she might be dumping before the cycle completes(?) Only, she won’t. We’ve scaled through two cycles already. Now pop something on my behalf somebody! E no easy jor!
I met Tina in February 20th, 2012. It was a bizarre meeting. I had just left the hospital where I was treated of malaria. There I was that evening, strolling cautiously, the newly unleashed, trying to neglect the bitter taste patched like ancient curse on my tongue.
This crazy cyclist appeared and angled straight at me. I lost my balance and fell into a gutter—a stinking one. Tina screamed. She was the passenger behind the cyclist. She came rushing to me, her face coming down into the gutter. She was lovely. Angelic. The breeze made caricature of her unpacked hair. Amazing. I felt no pain. And she was the last thing I saw.
When I came around, Tina was sitting on the couch waiting. A towel was wrapped around me. My clothes were gone. I gave a start. She told me to take it easy.
“Where are my clothes?”
“They are drying in the sun. But that’s not important. How are you feeling?”
“How did you get them off?”
“I didn’t look at you.”
“There was an eclipse?”
She laughed freely, like a child, throwing her head back. “Surely, you are fine.”
I wasn’t sure about that. “Where am I?”
“What? Wasn’t I supposed to be taken to a hospital?”
“You’re a hospital freak, or something? I saw your card. You just left the hospital.”
“I just got knocked off!”
“Relax. I’m a nurse. You’re fine.”
I relaxed then. I had always wanted a nurse-girlfriend. I laid back and thought of her pulling away my clothes. Did she touch me? I smiled. When I met her gaze again, she was smiling too. Ah! That telepathy! Ah! I closed my eyes and let my mind sour.
In one week we began a relationship. It was easy. Tina wanted it. She had just survived heartbreak. Her guy had dumped her fourteen days before Valentine. I was just the guy to bring succor, to prove all men aren’t animals. But I got to know after a long time that she had done the dumping…like the others before him.
Tina and I were together most of the time. She was a bit of a lost child. She never kept her gaze steady for a few seconds. She was easily bored with anything, even Christmas Day. See? I’m a bit of stay-home kid. Tina wasn’t. She wanted to be at the park and the beach at the same time. She wanted to make love on the soft grass at night and pretty much do alcohol-tasting in the club at Allen too. She was so confused.
I would say no to Tina’s demand half the time. No clubbing tonight. No movies, you could go by yourself. You don’t need that dress; it’s same color with the one you wore yesterday. No baby, no kissing, I’m working. Jeez, can’t you see?
I’m a bit of a know-it-all kind of kid. A crazy blogger. I hack into databases. I paint. I sing. I know the woman’s body. I know about the stock market. I know my rights. Yeah, that too! So, pretty easily, it turned out I became Tina’s guide to life, the one who tames her wandering spirit. She needed me for half the things she did. But she never ceased to amaze me; she was so rebellious. The Israelites would be awed. Once, after about six months into our relationship, Tina told me it’d be cool if we put some distance between us for a month. I told her I was cool with that. “I suppose we wouldn’t call each other within this ‘window period’?” I asked. She said fine, but it was obvious the last addition, coming from me, irked her.
Deal on! We kept to our agreement. One week after the ‘window period’ had elapsed, I was still to make any effort to reach my girlfriend. One day, she wandered into my house, livid. Some unlucky folk must have stepped on her toes.
“I’m so mad at you!” she told me coldly.
I couldn’t hide my surprise. “What! Me? How, baby?”
“It’s forty days today, you never bothered!”
“But I thought we…”
“Fuck your thoughts! You don’t love me!”
I cringed. I don’t love her?
“I have only come for the red dress I left in your wardrobe!” she said with finality…like it was over between us.
She went for the dress. But that was when she had the time to see the walls. I had painted portraits of her everywhere—the four corners. Thirty-three portraits in all!
The sadness, like light after darkness, left her face. She was stupefied. The tears came pouring from her eyes. “I love you so…so much…” she sobbed, and came running into my arms.
I believe it is these little things that have kept Tina beyond ‘her cycle’. My unpredictability. The quaint portrayals. The love she does not understand. It is for these that she is so willing to give up her last name for mine.